While barber shops were closed due to COVID-19, Air Force Master Sgt. Brandon Meng decided to seize an opportunity to help those in need while complying with grooming regulations.
Meng took to social media soliciting donations for Five Loaves Food Pantry. He challenged that if $100 was raised, he would have his wife, Nikita, shave his hair off.
“I had to cut it to stay within (military) regulations. And my wife has never done that,” he said.
The $100 was raised quickly, so they decided to raise the stakes and increased the challenge to $1,000, which quickly became $1,100 raised.
They support Five Loaves Food Pantry because it is based in Newport News where they have lived for two years. They moved to the area from their previous duty station of Japan.
Brother Tim Luken operates Five Loaves Food Pantry. He said he was shocked and humbled by the Mengs’ gesture.
For every $1 received, Five Loaves Food Pantry is able to provide $29.26 worth of food, Luken said.
“So, the Mengs provided $29,000 worth of food. And we give more than non-perishable food. We also give dairy items, fresh produce and baked goods,” he said.
“100 percent of our funds are God directed. We never solicit funds,” Luken said. Last year, the pantry served more than 1,700 families.
The additional funds raised by the Mengs also helps Five Loaves because the pantry has had additional expenses due to COVID-19.
“We’ve had to spend about $300 a month on gloves and we can’t recycle bags or boxes like we used to,” Luken noted.